Back from Banff: Food tips
Just back from a family trip to Banff in the Canadian Rockies. Here are some food tips.
Food: Forget about Greek Night at the Balkan Restaurant, so often mentioned as a visitor highlight. The food was mediocre (at best) and some dishes so salty as to be inedible. But, even worse was the belly dancing accompanied by the host pouring ouzo down the throat of a randomly selected patron. And, most painful to sit through was the line of ten customers who offered to try the line dance ending in the smashing of cheap porcelain plates. Really, if this is your idea of a good night out then by all means go for it. But at least go forewarned.
I'm glad to say it was our only bad meal during the week. Banff chefs appear to be breaking from some long-time menu standards for this mountain resort, and are exploring some very creative dishes highlighted with local ingredients. They don't always work completely, but it is interesting and often delicious. Muck-a-muck, Bison, and the easily overlooked Cafe Soleil fit in this category. None of it was inexpensive, but all were well worth trying if the budget allows. Bison also has a small deli with great picnic supplies.
There were others too, that we didn't have time to try. We also had a no better than average Japanese dinner at the much advertised Sukiyaki House.
Also, plan to ski or hike at least a day at Lake Louise and enjoy a beverage or light food at the Chateau in the cafe overlooking the lake and glacier. It's a spectacular setting.
And, since you're likely to be in Calgary (nearest airport) on one end or the other, visit the River Cafe for similar creative dishes. It's on an island, so you'll need to plan a short walk through the city park to get there.
Keep in mind: All of Banff and Lake Louise are inside the National Park, so you are required to purchase a day or annual pass before reaching your hotel, the slopes, or hikes. For more than a week, it's cheaper to get the annual pass which is good across Canada and costs about C $120.